March 11, 2024

GENRE | Kristen Stewart Chills – Acts of 'Love Lies Bleeding'

"I've never been anywhere but here."
Kristen Stewart Rose Glass | Love Lies Bleeding A24
A24 / VVS Films
Saint Maud writer/director Rose Glass helms the late-'80s New Mexico-set lesbian noir romantic thriller, Love Lies Bleeding. Starring Kristen Stewart and Katy O'Brian as a reclusive gym manager and her hitchhiking bodybuilding drifter lover, we focus on the cyclical nature of violence told through a destructive queer romance between two very lost, broken women at the insection of desperation and desire.

As Lou and Jackie, Stewart and O'Brian try to protect the ones they love, including one another and Lou's older sister (Jena Malone), from her abusive dirtbag of a husband (a knarly Dave Franco), and their estranged beatle-loving crime kingpin father (Ed Harris rocking a skullet). While the two same-sex lovers fall deeper in love, work out hard, and abuse anabolic steroids, things come to a head when another act of violence sets off an unfortunate chain reaction of bloody carnage.

Both of the lead performances pop off the screen through elusive bursts of emotional resonance in a grimy fever dream of body horror romance—The Incredible Hulk visual allusions notwithstanding. Its chaotic vision of rural Southwestern sex, drugs, and pumping iron propels an unconventional yet enticing narrative of destroying gender normative roles, only further heightening the surreal criminal elements unravelling in the desert.

Love Lies Bleeding tells a stirring, shocking, and surreal romance wrapped around guns, bodybuilding, and self-destructive love. How Glass sets the mood through low-key, then bravura stylistic flourishes and needle drops before an all-out, neon-soaked, bonkers visual dance of murder and mayhem stuns audiences as a gut-punch. However, the final twisted act and resolution fail to quite match the subversive sense of toxic allure and lust built up in the first hour. Still, it's a desirable piece of unhinged pulp fare.

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / Inverse

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